A former Commissioner for Information in Anambra State, Chief Joe-Martins Uzodike, has described all the pieces of information trending on some social media platforms on the supposed relationship between former Anambra Governor, Me Peter Obi and the erstwhile Anambra SARS Officer in Charge, James Nwafor, as falsehoods.
Obi had been accused of turning a blind eye to the atrocities of SARS in the State during his eight-year tenure, one of which was the demolition of Upper-Class Hotel at Onitsha.
The hotel was alleged to be used for ritual purposes and the then SARS OC had paraded the owner, one Bonaventure Mokwe with human skulls said to have been picked at the facility.
However, in 2015, an Anambra High Court exonerated Mokwe of the allegations and gave him back his property.
However, with the recent protests against SARS and the emerging stories of atrocities the then Anambra OC SARS committed, there have been direct accusations against the former governor especially with respect to the demolition of the hotel and the discovery of over 20 floating dead bodies in Ezu River, Amansea.
But speaking with TNC on Monday, the former Information Commissioner asserted that Mr. Peter Obi was beyond reproach in his conduct all through his two terms as Governor.
Challenging those he called Obi’s desperate traducers to prove the contrary, Chief Uzodike contended that Obi ran an open and transparent government, whereupon everybody knew what he did at any particular time.
“Obi came into office when Anambra State was facing grave security challenges and specifically interacted with heads of the various security agencies, especially during weekly security meetings; and so did not have reason to deal with or know the Divisional Police Officers, such as the retired Mr. James Nwafor, mentioned by the news peddlers.
“On the statement supposedly made by Mr. James Nwafor, one can see that it was clearly forged by the opposition to tarnish Obi’s image,” Uzodike said.
According to him, Mr. Nwafor had already refuted it as mischievous, blatant falsehood, misleading and malicious publication.
Chief Uzodike also commented on the corpses found floating on Ezu River, describing it as very unfortunate.
He revealed that Obi received the information while on his way to the USA to attend a meeting with United Nations officials but promptly boarded the next available flight back home and was driven straight to the scene.
He recalled also that Obi duly set up a Probe panel, ordered an autopsy, announced a reward of 5 million Naira for anybody who could volunteer information on what happened but that when the Federal Government waded in on the reason that it was their prerogative, Obi backed down.
Uzodike also revealed that all the bodies that investigated the barbarism, including Amnesty International, Civil Liberties Organisation, and Inter-Society, all exonerated him.
“Even MASSOB, after their own investigation, expressed satisfaction the way Obi handled it and exonerated him of any wrong-doing,” he added.
Uzodike regretted the willingness of some individuals to be used by some highly-placed individuals in government, including a governor, a gubernatorial aspirant, a Senator and a serving Minister, to destroy the image of Obi, saying they would fail again as Nigerians were wise enough to read in between lines.
Describing Obi as a stickler for due process and the rule of law, Chief Uzodike said the Obi administration took stringent measures to check what he described as the unbearable menace of kidnapping and armed robbery.
“Desirous to secure his people, part of what he did, backed by the law, was the demolition of the houses used by kidnappers. If you remember, for example, the house demolished at Oraifite had underground-like bunker where over 40 AK47 guns and other calibres of ammunition were found,” he said.
In the case of the Upper-Class Hotel that is currently being sensationalised, Uzodike noted that Obi acted based on security reports from the DSS.
“As I speak now, nobody has denied that human heads and AK47s were found in the Hotel,” Uzodike said.
He also made reference to a house Obi had gone to demolish in Nri after security reports, but had to direct for further investigations after the people of the town informed him that the kidnappers used the house without the knowledge of the owner.
“The building subsequently was spared. It was the same situation with Arthur Palace Hotel, Nkpor, which was spared because kidnappers merely lodged there as guests.
“All in all,” Uzodike continued, “Obi took all aspects of governance seriously. He appointed the highly-respected Colonel George Molokwu ( Rtd), who is from Onitsha, as Special Adviser on Security.
“The gentleman can also testify that Obi did not engage in any form of security breaches,” said Uzodike.
He said that Anambra people would testify that Mr. Obi never asked for anybody to be arrested nor ever used the instrument of power to oppress anybody or group.
“If anybody holds a contrary view, or if he bullied anybody as Governor, let the person come out and say so,” Uzodike challenged.